Friday, October 5, 2012

My Journey Through Israel

Danny Yoffee –
My Journey Through Israel
Continental Flight # CO84

Depart Newark, NJ January 2, 2011 3:55 p.m.
Arrive Tel Aviv, Israel January 3, 2011 9:15 a.m.

Depart Tel Aviv, Israel January 15, 2011
Arrive Newark, NJ January 16, 2011

Sent: Mon, Jan 3, 2011 5:53 PM

After a direct flight from Newark that took about 10 hours we arrived in Tel Aviv.  We boarded a 16- passenger bus that will be with us for the entire trip. After a stop for lunch at a restaurant called Dimona and later at a roadside memorial we arrived at Kibbutz Samar.  It was started in 1976.  Samar is also the name of a plant that grows in the Arava Desert near the Dead Sea.  

 Sand Dunes at Samar
(C) Daniel Yoffee Photography
There are 40 families living in Samar.  It is one of the few kibbutzim, which continue to maintain a lifestyle consistent with the original socialist ideas of the Kibbutz movement.  Their primary source of revenue is growing and exporting organic dates.  They have been cultivated in the Middle East for the past 6,000 years.

Sent: Jan 4, 2011 8:47 PM

Samar Date Plantation
(C) Daniel Yoffee Photography

We had a great breakfast at the Samar Date plantation that is run by the kibbutz and met with Nirit who works there who took us forty feet high in a date picker machine so we could see and photograph over the date trees.  There are about 7000 date palms on the plantation, which need 66,000 gallons of water a year for irrigation.  The water is recycled water brought in from the city of Eliat at the Red Sea.  We then met Digi Deke, a professional photographer who works on the plantation and lives in Samar. 

Improving Your Eye
(C) Daniel Yoffee Photography
After lunch and a half hour nap we met Raz who makes furniture in his workshop, which the kibbutz sells and uses in their homes.  We then met an Ethiopian Jewish artist and her family. She showed us a house, called a Tukul, an Ethiopian hut, which she is building, that is just like the one that she grew up in to have Israeli children come to visit.  It uses simple building techniques and makes excellent use of natural resources.  She also shared her artwork with us. 

We then took a short walk to see what is called a solar power farm.  It is the world’s first solar/gas hybrid power plant with solar reflector panels that provide power to Kibbutz Samar.  Then we stopped into see a beautiful house, which is insulated with hay and was constructed with many natural elements.  We them met Noga, a female artist who does most of the artistic tile work on the kibbutz.  She invited us for tea and desert.

Tree Shadows
(C) Daniel Yoffee Photography
After a two-hour break we headed off to dinner; then we met in the library to hear from Dr. Hanan Ginat an environmentalist who spoke of the geology of the Negev desert area, and Digi the photographer shared some of his black and white prints with us.  We then met to discuss the plans for tomorrow.  Tomorrow night we are staying in Petra.

Sent: Jan 5, 2011 2:59 PM

Glass Bottom Bloat
(c) Daniel Yoffee Photography
This morning we had a very nice breakfast at the kibbutz.  We crossed the Jordan border around 11 a.m. local time.  It cost $45 for each person to cross through.  We met our tour guide for the next day and a half, Salach, who showed us around Aqaba, a coastal city in the far south of Jordan.  We had lunch at Al Mohandes, an Arab restaurant.  We were able to take photos of some of the locals and the street scenes.
The Photographer
(c) Daniel Yoffee Photography

Later we arrived at our hotel called the Petra Taybet Zaman, located below the desert highway in the Taybet Mountains.  What was once an old Arab Village was transformed into a resort hotel while preserving its past.  We reached our destination with barely enough time to photograph the beautiful grounds of the hotel before darkness set in.  After dinner we explored further.

Sundown at Petra Taybet Zaman
(c) Daniel Yoffee Photography
Tomorrow we go to Petra, which has been called the world’s most expensive tourist attraction.  It cost $130 per person.  I saw a wonderful Discovery channel program narrated by the King of Jordan.  It will be a two and a half-mile walk each way.  We will get back to Kibbutz Samar in time for dinner.

Date: Thu, 6 Jan 2011 9:16:00

Inside Out Petra – The Urn tomb, Petra
(c) Daniel Yoffee Photography 
On the way to Petra we drove through Wadi Musa a Bedouin settlement and the nearest town to Petra.  We learned that the city of Petra attained it greatest importance under the Nabateans, an ancient people whose original homeland was in northeastern Arabia.  They migrated west during the 6th century BC, more than 2000 years ago.  It is a vast, unique city, carved into the sheer rock face by the Nabateans.

A Peek Through the Cracks
 - The Treasury, Petra
(c) Daniel Yoffee Photography
Street of Facades – Petra, Jordan  
(c) Daniel Yoffee Photography 
We are now on the way back to the Jordan border after spending most of the day in Petra. At one time it was home too as many as 30,000 people.  It was during this time that the most impressive structures of Petra were built.  Petra is called one of the seven new wonders of the world.  I wonder which one it has replaced. 

Mohammed, Donkey Handler,  Petra
(c) Daniel Yoffee Photography 

Today I took a camel ride, and to escape the climb back to the visitor’s center we all ended up riding donkeys back to the bus. We just stopped at a Turkish gift shop where they treated us to coffee or tea.  I have taken over 1000 pictures so far. It is been a lot of fun. On the bus we had the Jordanian guide singing Hebrew songs.

Date: Fri, 7 Jan 2011 20:50:28

Tree Planting In Memory of Alan – Kibbutz Samar
(c) Daniel Yoffee Photography 

Today we met at 7:30 am near the front of the Kibbutz so I could plant a tree in memory of Alan. Two others shared another tree in memory of a mom and in honor of a new grandson. 

Spiral Hill, Timna Park(c) Daniel Yoffee Photography 

Joe - Exploring Timna
(c) Daniel Yoffee Photography
After breakfast we drove down the road to Timna National Park.  It has beautiful landscapes, rock formations, ancient copper mines and fossils.  Joe Nissim was our guide for the day.  He explained the rock formations and plants.  We learned that many of the formations were shaped by centuries of wind and water erosion.  We had a picnic lunch.  We hiked for a few hours.  I went up one of the short mountain ranges.

Textile Merchant – Eliat Beach Boardwalk  
(c) Daniel Yoffee Photography
Then we went to Eliat, Israel’s southernmost city, a busy port and a popular resort, located at the northern tip of the Red Sea.  It is across the river from Jordan.  We were able to drive along the coast and see the border crossing into Egypt.  We walked along the boardwalk area.

Tonight, back at the kibbutz, we went to a Kabbalat Shabbat, which is a service to welcome the Sabbath, in the home of our guide Rachel’s sister.  We then went to the dining room for dinner. Instead of a lot of different salads we had meat.  I stuffed myself.

Tomorrow we leave at 7 a.m. for a visit to Masada National Park.  When we come back to the kibbutz we have been invited to a dairy farm.

Date: Sat, 8 Jan 2011 20:54:11

Lot's Wife
(c) Daniel Yoffee Photography
This morning we met for breakfast at 6:30 a.m. and then left for Masada, which is about a two and a half hour, drive.  On the way we passed Saddam and saw Lott’s wife in the mountain.  We passed Storm Mountain, which is made out of salt. 

Masada, a site of ancient palaces and fortifications, is very impressive, as one person said awesome.  It is over 1000 feet above sea level and is located near the western shore of the Dead Sea, which it overlooks.  `We went to the top by cable car where we could look down on the remains of the Roman camps from the time of the siege. We spent about two and a half hours there.  I spent a lot of time walking around the Kings northern palace.  

The Highest Point - The Top of Masada(c) Daniel Yoffee Photography 

Afterward we had lunch at a beach at Ein Gedi at the shore of the Dead Sea, the lowest place in the world.  It is about 1,300 feet below sea level.  The water level has dropped severely over the past twenty years.  We saw only two people floating since it was a very cool day. 

On the way back to the kibbutz we stopped at an ice cream/market place, which gets a lot of its dairy items from Kibbutz Samar.  Once we got back to the kibbutz a few of us took a tour of the dairy farm and met a number of the cows.  Each cow has a computer chip placed around his or her neck, which is read by a computer and opens the feeding machine only when it is time to eat.

Column and Fresco Panels,  Masada(c) Daniel Yoffee Photography  
This is will be our last night at the kibbutz. It is been a fun and educational week. The families have computers but do not have wireless and no video game systems.  Many families went out of their way to host us.  It has been a wonderful experience. 

Tomorrow we are on the way to Jerusalem.  We will stay there for three nights.  On the way we will stop at another kibbutz to take a tour that is not open to the public.

My Journey Through Israel - Part 2

Date: Sun, 9 Jan 2011 22:56:49

Goat Farm – Kibbutz Neot Smadar
(c) Daniel Yoffee Photography 
It is after midnight here in Jerusalem and we have to be up and out by 8:30 tomorrow morning but I just got back from a second dinner.  This one was with Grandma Yoffee's first cousin, his wife and their daughter and son-in-law.  They found us on the Internet a few years ago.  This was the first time that we met in person. 

Art Center - Kibbutz Neot Samar
(c) Daniel Yoffee Photography
This morning was our last breakfast at the kibbutz.  Some of the people that we had met during the week came to say goodbye.  

Nirit – Our Guide at Kibbutz Neot Smadar
(c) Daniel Yoffee Photography

On the way to Jerusalem we made three stops including lunch.  The first stop was Kibbutz Neot Smadar, which is thirty minutes north of Kibbutz Samar.  It has an art center that looks like it was built by Walt Disney but was built by people who were not architects and had no formal training.  The art center contains workshops for many different areas.  We toured a wood workshop and also saw a vineyard and tasted some very good wine.  From the fruit growing on the land they harvest organic wines, olive oil and dried fruits.  On the way to tour their vineyard we stopped to see some goats.  Their diary produces a variety of goat cheeses and yogurts.  Their gift shop sells many beautiful handmade items. 

Mariam – Bedouin entrepreneur
(C) Daniel Yoffee Photography 
After lunch we went to meet a Bedouin (Arab) woman, Mariam who went to school in England, returned to Israel and started a skin care company instead of getting married and starting a family, as is tradition.  We took pictures of her that will be used for advertising back in England.  On the way there we passed the Ramon Crater, a geological feature of the Negev desert.  The crater is 25 miles long and between 1 and 10 miles wide.

We arrived in Jerusalem in time for a very enjoyable dinner at a Lebanese restaurant.  Tomorrow we go to the Old city in Jerusalem.

Date: Mon, 10 Jan 2011 20:52:39

Today is the day that my solo exhibit opens at the Pearl River, NY library.  It runs until February 6.  I will have a reception from 3-5 on January 30th.  Some of the people from this trip will be in attendance.  All 12 of us have gotten along so well and got to know each other better than we did before.

Remembering – Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem
(c) Daniel Yoffee Photography 
This morning we had breakfast here at Rose of the Castel, the bed and breakfast that we are staying in near Jerusalem.  There is just enough room for all of us.  The people who own the place are from Finland.  They say they have to volunteer because they cannot get a work visa. 

Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem
(c) Daniel Yoffee Photography 
We drove to Jerusalem and saw some of the city – the Dome of the Rock, the Golden Gate and St. Stephen’s Church, St. Mary Magdalene and the Jewish Cemetery.  We stopped by the Church of the Holy Sepulcher to take pictures of the church and Jerusalem's old city.  We walked around the Via Dolorosa photographing the markets and people. 

A Photo of A Photo – The Western Wall, Jerusalem 
(c) Daniel Yoffee Photography

After lunch at a restaurant near the Jaffa Gate that opened early for us we went to the Western Wall or as some people call it the Wailing Wall.   It is the section of the Western supporting wall of the Temple Mount, which has remained intact since the destruction of the Second Jerusalem Temple.  It is the most sacred spot in the Jewish religion.  As with almost every building in Jerusalem the building is made of Jerusalem stone. This was a law enacted by the first mayor.  At the wall there were separate entrances for men and woman. Many people write something on a piece of paper and place it in the wall. The messages are usually to remember someone who has passed or a prayer or thought for someone who is ill.  We spent almost an hour at the wall.  I thought about Grandma Yoffee's dream of us going to Israel and of course Alan.

Mount Olives – Jerusalem
(c) Daniel Yoffee Photography 
We then went to a park that gave us the opposite view of our first stop in the morning. We then went downtown to practice night photography. I got some good tips. 

After a nice dinner nearby at Karma Restaurant we returned to the Castel Residence.  A reporter from the Jewish Standard interviewed some of us for a future article that will be featured with some of our photos.  We then met to discuss our final day, which includes a trip to Tel Aviv and Jaffa, and to discuss how the trip went so far. My camera is charged and ready to go despite the fact that I thought I would be bored after a few days of constant photography.

My Journey Through Israel - Part 3

Date: Tue, 11 Jan 2011 21:28:47

Statue of Moses - Yad Hashmona near Tel Aviv
(c) Daniel Yoffee Photography 
Today we left at 8:30 for Tel Aviv.  On the way we stopped at Yad Hashmona, a Biblical Garden and guest house/conference center.  Our driver’s son is the chef there.  It is about ten miles out of Jerusalem.  It is located on a mountain and has great views of Tel Aviv.  We took a lot of photos then were served free coffee.  Then we were off to the beach.  Tel Aviv was warmer then Jerusalem but was colder than we expected.  We had our jackets on most of the time.  We did see a few people in the water.  At the beach we were lucky to be able to photograph a guy feeding at least 50 birds, some older men playing a tile game, and a parrot who seemed to be lost among other scenes.

Clock tower - St. Peter's church, Jaffa, Israel
(c) Daniel Yoffee Photography 
Clock tower - St. Peter's church, Jaffa, Israel  After the beach we drove through different areas of Tel Aviv on the way to see Old Jaffa.  We saw many of the old structures including the Clock Tower and the tower of the Old Church.  We went to the markets, which were a lot of storefronts; many were basically indoor flea markets.

We had lunch at Margaret Tayar’s Fish restaurant, which has been in business for 33 years.  It was the best food of the trip despite the fact the fish was alive not long before we ate it.  We all split several dishes. At sundown we took pictures in a park that overlooked the outskirts of Tel Aviv.  We then celebrated the end of our photography tour with an ice cream stop.  I had sorbet.

Tomorrow we have to be up at 5:30 AM for those who need to get to the airport by 8 am.  I will be taking a taxi from the airport back to stay near the beach on Tel Aviv. I will be there until Saturday.  I will be shown around by one of our hotel co-op owners.

I have enjoyed helping out people with digital, point and shoot and phone questions.  One of our group members may plan a brunch the day of my photo exhibit reception.

The Road to Tel Aviv
(c) Daniel Yoffee Photography 
Some people are sorry the trip is over. I had a great time.  One person said that it seems like we were in two worlds this week.  We got to see how life is on a kibbutz including going above date trees on a plantation.  My other favorite moments were that I got to ride a camel, a donkey and to see Petra, Masada and Jerusalem.

I look forward to spending more time with group members and thinking about where I will take my next vacation.

Date: Thu, 13 Jan 2011 10:38:53

Bench Reflection – Tel Aviv, Israel
(c) Daniel Yoffee Photography
I am writing this email on Thursday, about Wednesday, standing in front of a vacant store window that has the reflection of a bench.  I am waiting for people to move so I can take the picture.  Every time someone leaves somebody else sits down.  After 20 minutes I got the picture.  It isn't good as I thought it would be.

Yesterday morning I said goodbye to the group at the airport at 830.  By 9:30 I had checked into the Dan Beach Tel Aviv hotel and took a two-hour nap. 

Rubin Museum – Tel Aviv, Israel
(c) Daniel Yoffee Photography 
I later went to the Reuven Rubin museum.  He was the father of my friend David.  Reuven was a famous Israeli painter whose friends included Edward G. Robinson and Harpo Marx.  The museum was formerly the house where David was raised.  His wife Carmela is the executive director.  Reuven’s studio remains as it was and his work is shown when they do not have another exhibit. 

The Rubin Museum is on Bialik Street. Hayim Bialik was a scholar, businessman as well as a poet.  By writing his works in Hebrew, Bialik contributed significantly to the revival of the Hebrew language.  Bialik’s house just down the block from the Rubin Museum was also turned into a museum.  They were both interesting places.  At the end of the street is the original Tel Aviv city hall.  It is quite small compared to the current city hall.  Across the street is a small condo complex owned by the Lauder family that houses a small museum about Bauhaus architecture.  A style that was very popular in the 30's.

I met David at the museum and we did a five-hour driving tour of Tel Aviv and vicinity.  Our method of transportation, his Cadillac, was a bit different than the van that they use at the kibbutz.  We stopped for Lunch at a new farmers market at the Tel Aviv port in a recently converted airport hangar.  It is possibly one of the world’s nicest farmers’ markets.

The Old and The New – Tel Aviv, Israel
(c) Daniel Yoffee Photography 
Other stops included the site where Prime Minister Rabin was shot.  All of his guards were looking forward and not one had his back.  We went to an old train station that took people from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.  I went along with David to see if one of his father’s sculptures was a fake.  It was.  We also went to a shopping mall.  The underground parking lot had green or red lights on top of each space depending on if it was empty or occupied.  I was dropped off and walked a bit back to the hotel.

Today I was going to take a Hop on- Hop off bus tour that David recommended but I decided to walk part of the route.  I spent a lot of time in the commercial area.  It is probably in the 60's weather wise.

Continue reading My Journey Through Israel

My Journey Through Israel - Part 4

Date: Fri, 14 Jan 2011 16:19:45

Last night I took a 40-minute bus ride to go to the Eretz Israel Museum, that includes the Israel postal museum.  I went mainly to see the 2010 world press photo exhibit.  Included in the exhibit was an Israeli portion, which included gruesome photos of war zones in nearby Countries.

I then took a bus back to the hotel and by mistake got off a few miles too soon.  The other day I was told that the poet Hayim Bialik saved the Hebrew language since originally many came to the country from elsewhere speaking their native language.  He would only speak Hebrew and encouraged others to do the same.  While I was walking through this area and many parts of Israel I came across people who spoke both English and Hebrew or only Hebrew.

Aqueduct of Caesarea. Caesarea, Israel
(c) Daniel Yoffee Photography 
This morning David picked me up at 9 a.m.  Our first stop was Caesarea, which in the 60's was a beach resort for those living in Tel Aviv.  We passed by David's parents weekend house.  A former Israeli president lived across the street.  The area has ancient ruins including an amphitheater that is still in use today.

On the way to Haifa we past the Carmel Mountains which, in 2010, had a large part destroyed by the largest forest fire to hit Israel. The view of Haifa from Mount Carmel is spectacular.  From there we could see the mountains of Lebanon.   On the side of the road we passed horses and some kind of animal that looked too large to be a cow.  I wasn't sure what it was.

The View of Haifa from Mount Carmel
(c) Daniel Yoffee Photography 
We passed a city that is home to many Israeli Arabs.  David said that the current prime minister suggested giving back that land but those Arabs are very happy in Israel. He said that they have better living conditions and get Social Security.

We then went to the Lake of Galilee by the Golan Heights.  There are many hiking trails in the large mountainous area.  We drove through the area, which belonged to the Syrians until The six-day war in 1967.  There are still remnants of that war.  Driving through we could see tanks, old army outposts and fences along the roadside that say do not enter - minefields.  Some are still active.

The View of the Golan Heights from Hula Valley
(c) Daniel Yoffee Photography 
When we got to the bottom of the mountain we could look up at another mountain and see an area with only ten houses.  This was our destination for lunch, the home of David's sister and her husband.  We could see hawks over the mountain as well as a large untouched area of grass.  I was told that this was the location of the first synagogue before Jerusalem.  We all then went to the Hula Nature Reserve.  Part of the area is a bird sanctuary.  We were given a tour, by golf cart, where we saw 42,000 Cranes, beavers and a variety of other birds. David and his brother-in-law Ami thought it was very important for me to extend my trip to see this area of the country.
Hula Lake Park, Northern Israel
(c) Daniel Yoffee Photography 

Now we are headed back to Tel Aviv.  It will be my last night.

Date: Sat, 15 Jan 2011 20:45:38

This morning after a good night’s sleep and a breakfast consisting mainly of fruit I took a bus across town to Rothschild Boulevard. Edmond James de Rothschild, was a strong supporter of Zionism.  His generous donations lent significant support to the movement during its early years, which helped lead to the establishment of the State of Israel.  

Bauhaus Architecture, Tel Aviv, Israel
(c) Daniel Yoffee Photography 
I was headed to a tour of Bauhaus architecture that started in the 1930's with an idea that form follows function.  A large number of the houses are now undergoing renovations.  They say there is a law that each building must be renovated after a certain number of years but that law isn't enforced.

The guide spoke more about the history of Tel Aviv than Bauhaus.  He mentioned the Bialik and Rubin Museums on Bialik Street.  Bialik moved to Tel Aviv when he was 50.  He had no children and donated his house after he and his wife died.  The tour guide said that the same was true about Rubin.  That he had no children.  I corrected him and said that I was with both of them yesterday.  The guide was more impressed that the Rubin family would give up their home.

This Old House – Tel Aviv, Israel
(c) Daniel Yoffee Photography 
After the tour I walked back to the hotel via the beach.  After a nap I walked down to what used to be the port and airport hangars that have been renovated into shops and restaurants.

I got to the airport at 7:45 for an 11:40 p.m. flight.  The security gate for my flight didn't open until 8:30 p.m.  One woman said that flying used to be fun.  We had to go through security with all of our checked bags and then again with the carry on bags.  My laptop bag was searched because I had a book in it.  They already had my laptop. We had to have our passports checked twice but I was surprised that we didn't have to remove our shoes.

During the entire trip I was amazed how many times I heard my last name mentioned when people spoke Hebrew.  It means great or beautiful.  I had a great time but look forward to getting home, sleeping in my own bed and not having to ask people if they speak English.  If I do go back again I need to learn Hebrew. The plane will be boarding soon.



Thursday, September 27, 2012


"After trying for years I am thrilled to finally have the chance to be a crew member for the Boston to New York AIDS Ride on September 21 - 23rd."

(c) Daniel Yoffee 2012

Many have asked me how the AIDS bike ride went.  I wanted to write my thoughts down since it was emotional just to find out that I was finally chosen as a crewmember.

I am not sure when I originally found out about the ride but I know that for many years it was something that I wanted to do in Alan's memory.  I felt that this was almost as important as starting his scholarship fund, making an AIDS quilt panel and creating the web site in his memory.  Unknown to the people we grew up with - AIDS was one of Alan's causes.

I only found out a few weeks before the ride that I was accepted as a crewmember.  I quickly arranged to use vacation time and a short while later I attended the first crew meeting.  As always when I volunteer I told them that I would do whatever needed to be done.  I was looking forward to the experience but I also had some stress.  Doing this right was so important to me that I didn't want to screw it up.

On Thursday morning at 8 a.m. about nine of us loaded into a passenger van on the way up to Framingham, MA.  Everyone got along pretty well.  At a 2 pm training session we were given an overview of the weekend and then broke into smaller groups to discuss our individual duties.  I was assigned to be a navigator.  Assisting the driver of one of two sweep vehicles. If a biker had a problem on the road and the mechanic wasn't available we would take them to the next rest stop.  Some times if someone was having a rough time we would pick him or her up and take them to the next stop.  Being nervous I asked a lot of questions at the training.  One of the organizers said to me you'll do fine, just have fun with it.

(c) Daniel Yoffee 2012

On day one, Friday, I had a 5 am wake up call.  Opening ceremonies started sharply at 6:15. The 85 riders and 27 crewmembers were almost all present to begin the 265-mile ride.  Those responsible for setting up the first rejuvenation stations (rest stops) were already on their way.  Each stop had two crewmembers and one medic.  The first day was 111 miles.  We had a number of rest stops and a lunch stop.  Our final destination that day was Farmington, CT.

My sweep partner Dan and I drove what one of the riders called "The Dan Van" sometimes back tracking on the route once or twice during the day. Along with a rider called the caboose both sweep vehicles made sure that no one fell behind.

Each night at dinner the riders were told what to expect the next day.  On the first night I was asked if I would like to share my story and be interviewed for a daily information sheet that they put out each morning.  With tears in my eyes
I said yes. 

(c) Daniel Yoffee 2012
This year the ride took a different route than in years past.  On day one there were a lot of hills but I heard that day two, Saturday, was harder.  We saw many more people in the vans on day two - an 85-mile day.  We spent more time at the rest stops making sure that we picked up everyone who needed a ride to the next stop.  Two mechanics visited all of the rest stops and also looked over each bike at night.  The end of day two found us in Danbury, CT. Less than an hour from my home.

On the final morning, Sunday, I found out that one of the staff members had to leave unexpectedly.  I volunteered to help load the luggage in the truck before rushing to meet riders at the first rest stop.  We didn't see to many people in the vans.  The 70-mile route on Sunday was more flat and prettier than the other days. Everyone was tired but in good spirits.

Once the riders got to the Hudson River bike trail in upper Manhattan we wouldn't see them again until after they left the holding area for the closing ceremony.

On 13th street, down the street from the LGBT center, the crewmembers lined up from curb to curb to greet the riders. At 2:15 pm the crew then followed along to be congratulated and to hear presentations from the center staff and the news that over $470,000.00 was raised so far.

As we were asked to close our eyes and remember the reason we participated I started to cry, thinking of Alan.  We were then asked to remember those who are alive and living with HIV.  I thought of a college friend.  I also thought of one of the riders who is HIV positive, divorced with kids and now married to a man.  His ex-wife and son were crewmembers.

A large number of riders are living with HIV - some belong to a group called Positive Peddlers.  I was in awe and amazed that a number of them were always in the front of the group. One in particular was riding with the old fashion bike pedals.

Another one of those riders, also recently married, secured his phone to his bike so he could videotape himself during the ride.  At the rest stop he would email the videos to family and friends asking them to donate.  He singlehandedly raised $4,000.00.

(c) Daniel Yoffee 2012
As tired as I was by mid-afternoon each day the riders must have been exhausted but they continued forward reminding me that the problems in my life are small compared to other people.  I hope to push myself harder when I don't feel like working-out remembering what each biker accomplished.

When I found out that I would be a crewmember I was sad and said that this would be one of the last things that I will do in Alan's memory.   But I am sure I will think of others while trying to do a better job of living and enjoying my life for myself as Alan would want me to.

Daniel Yoffee, September 27, 2012

My Cycle for the Cause photos